Brown Family Communities, a BUILDER 100 company based in Tempe, Ariz., has shut down. "Due to the economic conditions, our offices are closed," a message tells callers to the company's main telephone number. The builder's Web site ( has also been taken down.

The specific reasons for the closure were unknown this morning. Brown Family Communities has not appeared on the lists of financially troubled home builders compiled by the Arizona Department of Real Estate. There also does not appear to be any bankruptcy filings for the company as of this morning. 

But in a conversation last month with BUILDER senior editor John Caulfield, CEO David Brown did indicate that the Phoenix housing market was becoming extremely challenging. Seventeen home building companies in the area have gone bankrupt or closed, he said at the time, noting that Brown Family Communities was one of only two private builders left in the market.

One major challenge: extremely scarce buyers. "Nothing is selling, and I'm giving away $100,000 to anyone who will buy a house. I'd like to know where all of the buyers that other builders talk about are supposed to be," Brown told BUILDER.

His numbers reflect that. Brown delivered 522 homes for $156 million in 2007, but he expected to close just 225 homes this year. (In 2006, his company's peak, Brown Family Communities closed 826 homes.)

And he, like so many other builders, said he thought the next six months would be a very difficult time for builders and their businesses. "It's going to be very tough," Brown, 76, said during the September interview. "I said a while back that this isn't going to be as bad as 1985, but I was wrong when you see the entire economy sliding downhill."

Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine. John Caulfield contributed reporting to this story.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.